Help These Women

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THE Pakistani wives of former Kashmiri militants who returned to J&K under a rehabilitation scheme for surrendered militants have once again urged the Governments to address their grievances on humanitarian grounds. On January 4, a group of these women held a press conference in Srinagar to press their demand for deportation to PaK if the government was not ready to consider them the citizens of J&K. The women said their plight shouldn’t be politicised and which, sadly, has been the case. Despite their intermittent protests, the central and the state governments have chosen not to respond to their demands.

Recently, the authorities even stopped counting of votes in two District Development Council seats as the two women who contested from there belonged to PaK. This despite the fact that the union government treats PaK as a part of India. In 1994 the parliament passed a resolution to this effect.

The women came to Kashmir in the years after 2010 as part of the rehabilitation policy announced by the then National Conference-Congress government for the Kashmiri youth who had crossed over to Pakistan or PaK for arms training and wanted to return to a normal life in the state.

Around 450 youth had returned, many of them with their wives, under the rehabilitation policy. The state government had opened “channels” for them to return without arms and resume normal life. Government had selected four entry points – Poonch-Rawalakote (Poonch), Uri-Muzaffarabad (Uri), Wagah (Punjab) and Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi from where the youth could enter the state following necessary clearance. But after 2014 when the BJP was elected to power at the centre, the plan was all but shelved. This, despite the fact, that the then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who headed a coalition government with the BJP had suggested “legalising Nepal route” for those Kashmiri youths who had now shunned the path of violence and wished to return to their homes.

But the wives of these youth have since been disallowed to return to Pakistan and PaK, even on an occasional visit. They complain of having no travel documents and also that their children are not being admitted in local school as they hail from the other part of Kashmir.

Also, many of these women live in miserable conditions after being divorced by their husbands. This has left them without any property and documents. According to an estimate, around fifty of these women have been divorced by their husbands.

Though their repeated protests and pleas to the government to address their demands should have by now elicited a response, nothing of the sort has happened. The government has chosen to neither reject nor agree to the demands. As a result, the miserable plight of these women has only worsened. Their situation is inherently humanitarian in nature and deserves an earnest redressal. Here’s hoping that the government finally wakes up to their plight.

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